Covering Small Events & Happenings

Photographer at Work. Pano. B&W rendering. ©Alina Oswald.

Covering small events & happening for publications as a writer and photographer

Back in 2013, for a brief time, I wrote a column for A&U–Art & Understanding Magazine. It was published on the last page of the magazine and included lots of images as well as text and covered HIV/AIDS-related events and happenings from around New York City.

Take a look:

The Scene: (re)Presenting AIDS; A&U, September 2013. ©Alina Oswald

How does one cover such an event?

  • research the event: theme, date, time, place, duration, keynote speakers, etc.
  • research the speakers, familiarize yourself with the theme
  • make sure you arrive on time and prepared
  • for photographers: inquire if flash is allowed or not, oftentimes it is NOT allowed, and plan accordingly; bring a camera with fully-charged batteries and enough memory cards to capture the event
  • for writers: bring a pen and paper and a recording device (smartphone) to take notes; ask if (audio) recording is allowed before you turn on your devices/open apps, etc.
  • at the event: find a good spot from where you can photograph; capture images right before, during and right after the event, in order to capture the full story
  • at the event: when taking notes, make sure you include interesting quotes (and get them right)

  • after the event: it’s a good idea to fact-check those quotes (you might need to research and contact people whose quotes you want to include, to double-check)
  • after the event: transcribe your handwritten notes (or your audio recording, if that was allowed), and back up your images and notes
  • after the event: include image metadata, captions, titles, make sure everything is spelled correctly
  • if possible and there’s enough time, sleep on it, give it a day or two, and then revisit your work and double check everything, including the assignment’s guidelines, and only then submit to the editor

"AIDS ON GOING GOING ON" bags. Photo ©Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
“AIDS ON GOING GOING ON” bags. Photo ©Alina Oswald

In summary:

No matter what some people might say or assume, even the shortest of articles require images; even the shortest of articles and related images require a significant amount of behind-the-scenes work. Also, not all that work is creative work. Usually, these sorts of assignments require:

  • approval
  • research
  • emailing back and forth with editors, PR people, interviewees, and their assistants (at times), and so on
  • writing, photographing, and capturing the ‘raw’ data
  • creativity and time to actually do the creative work
  • double checking everything, for writing and photography: spell checking, grammar checking, fact-checking, proofing EVERYTHING!
  • following the guidelines and keeping the deadlines!
  • and coming up with new ideas for upcoming possible assignments, pitching those ideas, thus showing consistency, understanding of, and desire to contribute to the publication

  • also, REMEMBER THIS: No creative work–no article, no photo shoot, no logo design, no website design, etc.–no piece of creative work takes “only 20 minutes,” from start to finish, no matter how much or how often those who’re supposed to pay you for said creative work are saying it; they say that because they want to justify their meager rates, how little they are willing to pay you for all that work. Those who try to pull such a stunt, and there are plenty, require a reminder, a step-by-step, point-by-point, explanation of all the work involved. Explain everything to them, in a business-like manner but, at the same time, as if they are little children and have no idea (they do, they know they do and they know you know they do); and then patiently and calmly wait for their reaction. See what happens.

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Alina Oswald

PS: In light of the news that an archaic SCOTUS is getting ready to take away women’s rights come June, I have to add one more note (with more to follow):

As women creatives, as women trying to make a living and be independent as the human beings that we are, oftentimes we’re being treated as “lesser than” by many men, as well as, sadly to say, by other women who want to impose their archaic views on our lives and bodies. And so, they talk at us, rather than with us to “put us in our place,” and keep us there, forever, if they could. And that “place” that they have in mind for us is NOT a comfortable place, nor is it safe. It does not allow us to express ourselves or live our lives as free human beings. It denies us fundamental human rights, like autonomy over our own bodies and, in turn, over our own lives. As a result, they dehumanize us.

A few women, and possibly a handful of men, have stood up and will continue to stand up for our human rights. Yet, still, many of us will be dragged back in time, into the darkness of past centuries. Some of us will be back, eventually.

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